In Search of a Homeland

Written by Penelope Lively
Review by Helene Williams

Prize-winning fiction author Penelope Lively provides a treat for all ages in her retelling of the story of the Aeneid. Beautifully illustrated by Iain Andrew, this rendition of Aeneas’s long journey from Troy to Italy is a highly-accessible introduction to Virgil’s masterpiece. The story follows Aeneas and his men as they leave embattled and burning Troy and travel to Crete, Libya, Sicily, and finally, to the city that would become Rome; along the way the band of soldiers encounters monsters, giants, death, and for Aeneas, love in the form of Dido, queen of Carthage, as well as a treacherous journey to the Underworld. Mixed among the human travails are the ploys and trickery of the gods, especially Juno and Venus, who engage in a power struggle of their own. Obviously, reducing the Aeneid this much means that many details are left out, and only rarely does the reader get a sense of time. When Aeneas explains his travails to Dido, the events he recounts seemed to happen one right after the other but in reality occurred over a period of seven years. All in all, though, this book is a wonderful introduction (or refresher!) to a classic tale.